When someone is sworn in as the President of the United States, irregardless of political affiliation or personal belief or prejudice, the people of this country owe that president all the respect and loyalty due to that office. As Commander In Chief of our Armed Forces, especially during wartime, we owe the president our full support. The constant attacks on President Obama and juvenile partisan bickering displayed by Congress serves only to weaken us in the eyes of the world, something we cannot afford, as it makes us appear divided to our enemies and opens us up to further attacks.
Recent items in the news may very well be indicators of the erosion of the level of care our leader is receiving. To wit:
- According to MSN News, a security guard with a gun and a record of three convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama while on his trip to Atlanta (September 16th), in violation of Secret Service protocols. In addition, he failed to comply with requests from Secret Service agents to stop using his phone to videotape the president. After questioning him and checking his background on a database, agents expressed their concern to the guard’s supervisor (from the private security firm employing him). The guard was immediately fired and ordered to turn over his gun. The Secret Service agents that allowed the man to share President Obama’s elevator car, had no idea the man was armed.
- MSN News also tells us of a homeless Army veteran climbed a fence, ran 70 yards past Secret Service agents and made it inside the East Room of the White House. He had a folding knife with a serrated blade on his person, and Federal agents found a machete, two hatchets and more than 800 rounds of ammunition in his car. This was his third encounter with law enforcement since July, when he was arrested by Virginia State Police for erratic driving. Police found a map of the White House, a sawed off shotgun, and a ‘stash of weapons’ in his car. Federal agents noticed him near the White House perimeter in August. He had a hatchet in his waistband.
- The Washington Post tells us it took Secret Service agents four days to realize a man with a high powered rifle had fired at least seven bullets into the White House in 2011, due to several security lapses that resembled an episode of the Keystone Cops, exposing problems at ‘multiple levels’ of the Secret Service.
The Secret Service’s response to the incident infuriated the president and the first lady, who has spoken publicly about “…fearing for her family’s safety since her husband became the nation’s first black president”. It would appear that fear is well founded since, according to the Secret Service’s threat assessment, President Obama has had ‘three times as many threats’ as his predecessors.
The Washington Post reported Julia A. Pierson, the Secret Service’s director, was called to Capitol Hill. Committee members questioned her about failed operational procedures and the “…questionable culture of an agency that once was the epitome of pride.” Her answers left committee members, both Republican and Democrat, angry and dissatisfied. The bipartisan concern for White House security was demonstrated when Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), often a harsh, partisan Obama critic, referred to him as “our president.”
Pierson resigned her position, after only eighteen months on October 1st, 2014. In an interview with Bloomberg News she stated she felt it would be ‘best for the agency’, blaming Congress for losing confidence in her, and the media for forcing her to resign. Nowhere in her public statements did she take ownership for her agency’s failures to perform their mandated task.
According to NBC News, Joseph Clancy has been appointed as interim acting director by the Department of Homeland Security. Clancy retired in 2011 to head security for Comcast Corp. after serving as special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division for President Obama. David Axelrod, one of President Obama’s oldest friends and longest-serving advisers, said on Twitter, “I knew Joe Clancy when he led the presidential detail. You could not find a better person to repair the Secret Service”.
I hope that is true. I am sure that President Obama must feel more secure with the safety of his family back in the hands of someone he knows and trusts. Hopefully, Mr. Clancy will be able to bring the Secret Service back up to the level of competence that once earned it the reputation of an ‘elite group of professionals, willing to take a bullet to protect the President’.
I hope that publicity about recent failures of the Secret Service does not encourage anyone to attempt to attack President Obama, thinking they would have support from the members of Congress that have so vocally attacked the president. It is only by representing ourselves as a united people that we can hope to defeat our enemies and keep our people safe.